Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan continues his reign after winning Grundy Bank’s seventh annual Brown Bag Friday Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The reigning champ devoured six this year — surpassing his personal record of five, which he ate in each of the last two years.
“I knew I could do five easily,” Callahan said. “But they went down good this year.”
Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland, who fixed his hotdog up with ketchup, relish and pickles and ate only one, was in disbelief at Callahan’s performance.
“That’s not even human,” Helland said.
Residents turned out to the Grundy County Courthouse lawn on a sunny afternoon, where they purchased hot dog lunches and ate them at a reasonable pace.
Not like the participants, who devoured the dogs at a rather alarming rate.
Each of the 10 competitors selected an organization and raised money during the event. The winning hot-dog eater — as well as the one who raised the most money before stepping up to the plate — received an additional $250 from Grundy Bank toward their cause.
Callahan was eating for Special Connections of Grundy County, an organization that helps people with disabilities.
“It’s a good charity,” Callahan said. “I was honored to be able to represent them here today.”
Christina Chapman-Van Yperen, staff writer with the Morris Daily Herald, could only eat half a hotdog in the allotted time, but — for the second year in a row — raised the most money — $709 for United Way of Grundy County.
Grundy Bank then supplemented that amount with the additional $250.
“The generosity of this community is amazing,” Van Yperen said. “I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me support United Way.”
“Some of my supporters are a little disappointed in my half of a hot dog,” she added, “so I plan to try and step up my game next year and finish a whole one . . . maybe.”
Callahan raised the second most, with $477 going to Special Connections, and Missy Durkin, business development director of the Grundy County Economic Development Council, came in third by raising $415.30 for Operation St. Nick.
The other competitors were Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes, who played for the Community Foundation of Grundy County; Jim Watts, president of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA; Kevin Bernard of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers; Kevin Walker of Enjoi! Bake Shop, who played for We Care of Grundy County; Jerry Peterson from Morris Public Works; and Pete Brummel, senior vice president of Grundy Bank, who played for the Jim Feeney Memorial School Fund.
Helland played for Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity.
According to Sarah Grieff of Grundy Bank, the benefit raises both money and awareness for the causes.
“It gives 10 different charities the opportunity not just to have money raised, but to get their names out there,” Grieff said.
“It went really good,” she added. “We collected a lot of money for good causes today.”
Peterson, who was competing for the first time, ate for the JOHA Foundation, which supports cancer patients during treatment.
They help people who don’t have enough money deal with cancer, Peterson said.
Watts, playing for the YMCA, said the organization is looking to build its program in the Morris community.
“We want to be a part of the community,” Watts said. “We want to help anyway we can.”
Kevin Bernard, who was eating for the Morris Hospital Foundation and finished second last year, vowed, before the contest, to unseat Callahan.
“I finished one bite behind last year,” Bernard said. “My plan is to eat fast and eat often.”
Still, none of the nine could unseat Callahan, who has now completed the three-peat.
“Physically, it doesn’t feel very good right now,” Callahan said. “But it feels good to win.”